Friday, March 26, 2010

Catching Up (Is Hard to Do)

This week has been my spring break and I really needed the time.  I was much more tired than I realized, so I spent the first few days just catching up on sleep.  And that extra sleep really has helped.  I got caught up on some neglected household chores and tamed the laundry mountain.  True, there may be an errant dust bunny here or there, but I've got a few more days to get things more or less under control.

In the meantime, I've been dropping into my sewing room just for brief visits.  The stars in the picture above are a hand sewing project.  I have 14 more or less complete out of a total of 18 planned.  These have been slow going, but now that I'm so close to the end, I'm beginning to feel the love again.  I'm not sure about how to set them in a quilt; that's a decision that I keep putting off.  The good news is that I have somehow managed to acquire quite a bit of the fabric I need to finish the quilt in a couple of different ways.  It's just a matter of making the choice.

While traveling around blogland, I came upon a treasure trove of basket block patterns at Sandi's Piecemeal Quilts.  Just lately basket blocks are especially appealing to me, and it seemed a good use for some nice bright fabrics I found on the remnant table a while back.  These finish at 10 inches and there are nine different patterns on Sandi's blog--just the right number for a spring couch throw. 

I also started working on the Civil War Tribute quilt.  This is the first block I tried.  It will be 18 inches and will have a smaller 12 inch twin.  I didn't like the fabric I chose for the side triangles, so I'm rethinking.  There are lots and lots of bias seams in this block, which called for some very gentle handling.  There was a little bit of stretch, despite my determined starching, but I'm pretty pleased with the way it turned out.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Design Wall Monday::First Day of Spring Break

After nearly a week of warm, sunny weather, the first day of spring break was cold and rainy--perfect for staying inside and sewing. 

My doll quilt jag continues.  I finished the setting squares for this one today and got the main part of the quilt put together.  Now I am auditioning fabrics for a narrow border.

The dark red?

Or the dark brown?  Or neither?  Something lighter?  I think it wants SOMETHING, but I haven't found anything that I really like.  (Sorry for the rather odd color-cast of the second photo, but the light here today is decidedly grim, and I photographed it with lamps ablazing.)

This little one measures about 11 1/2 by 16 inches, so adding a another couple of inches wouldn't hurt anything.  Anyway, I'm going to leave it up there for a while and I'll keep trying different borders until I find something I can live with.

You can check out what others have on their design walls this week by reading Judy L.'s blog Patchwork Times

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Celebrate Quilting!

I'm still buzzed from our Quilter's Day Out celebration. 

We had hoped for a big turnout, and we got one.  More than 200 people came to sew, to see our demonstrations, to chat, and to have a good time with quilting friends.

I did get pictures, as you can see, but at the last minute I got a little worried about someone not appreciating having their photo suddenly show up on the internet, so I'm just posting shots of our guild's quilt display.  I had to wait until late in the day when the crowd had thinned out a bit to even get these.

I hope that you can see the wide variety of quilts and quilting styles we have in our little guild.  A group of very energetic ladies set up the quilt display racks and got the hall ready yesterday so that we worker bees could arrive this morning just minutes before the doors opened and take our assigned places at the registration table, the goody bag handout, and the guild information table.

It takes a lot of planning and organization to make something like this happen.  As I left this afternoon, this year's planners were already talking about NEXT year!

Happy Quilter's Day Out!

Our guild is celebrating Quilter's Day Out today at a local church hall.  We've got sewing demonstrations, door prizes, goody bags, a book sale, quilt displays, vendor booths, and food provided by the church ladies.  I'm working from nine to four, which is why I'm up and around this early on my first day of spring break.

If I can remember to take my camera and actually take it out, I'll have pictures later.

How are you celebrating today?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

March Retreat

My previous experiences with retreats have been with small groups sponsored by the local quilt shop or mini-retreats with some of my quilting friends.  But this last weekend I was lucky enough to get a spot at a popular retreat that was something quite different.  There were 91 of us!  We were spread out in the ballroom of a state park lodge with another group of quilters in a smaller room across the lobby.

The organizer is a former quilt shop owner who has been doing this for ten years now and who seems to have mastered all the organizational details.  I arrived around dinner time on Friday because I had to work, but when I got there my place was all ready for me and I was seated next to a group of my friends.  There were stations for cutting and ironing strategically placed around the room, and there seemed to be a never ending supply of snacks and drinks in one corner.  It didn't take long for me to get myself unpacked and ready to sew. 

It's an amazing experience to be in such a large group of creative, busy people. During breaks in my sewing time it was wonderful to wander through the sewing area and see what everybody was working on.  I think part of the fun of a retreat is being able to meet and talk to so many like-minded people.  No pictures, I'm afraid, because I forgot my camera, but I'm going to post a bit about what seemed popular later this week.

The main thing I wanted to work on was my little basket quilt.  I won eight blocks in a guild BOM about two years ago and I had made a few more to be able to bring it up to a nice baby size quilt.  After I evened up the blocks, it went together very easily.  This little quilt is very dear to me because most of the blocks were made by guild friends.  I plan to have the individual block makers sign the label.

The other project I brought along were some leftover nine patches from the 1800's doll quilt that I worked on last month.  I had plenty of bits and pieces left to make another doll-sized quilt; all I needed was a soft double pink or dusty rose to use in the setting blocks.  I was able to score the perfect fabric Saturday during a trip to one of the local shops.   I've got all the fabric for the setting squares cut out and sewn into half-square triangles; I just need to find a few minutes to assemble the top. 

I even had time to get started on yet another project that I've been mulling over for a while now.  No pictures yet; I'll post some after I've made a bit more progress.

Have a great week!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Design Wall Monday::Little Things

It's been a while, I know.  Things have been very, very busy at work and my stress level has been through the roof.  Most of the time sewing or knitting helps me maintain an even keel, but after a certain point I can't even handle those.  Thankfully, things are finally calming down a bit and I can turn my attention back to something fun.

The blocks above are some that I won in a guild BOM back in 2008.  Yes, two years ago!  I won eight blocks (our guild was still pretty small then), and I had always intended to make a few more to eke out a baby quilt.  I even bought some pastel floral fabric to use as a border and/or possible sashing.  All of this has been biding its time in a bundle on a shelf in my sewing room.

I took the parts and pieces to the mini-retreat two weeks ago, and got started on four more blocks.  Here are three more baskets with the handles yet to be tacked down.

There is one more that I finished just to check the cutting and sewing directions.  It has been two years, after all.  Pastels are not really my favorites, but of all the BOM's that we've done over the years, I think these little blocks are my favorite and I was very happy I was the winner that month.  Everything is cut out; I just need to find a few minutes to sew all these bits together.

If you would like to see what others are working on this Monday, check out Judy L.'s Patchwork Times blog.

One thing that has carried me through the stress of the past couple of weeks is that I was able to grab a place at a quilting retreat next weekend.  A friend of mine mentioned that she had heard that there were a few openings left and I called the woman who organizes it right away and secured my spot.  Several friends and members of my quilting guild will be there. I am so looking forward to having some quality sewing time.

And I'm looking forward to spending some time this week just trying to decide what projects to work on.    Sometimes that's as much fun as doing the sewing itself!